Big Day for DCC Track at Redbank Invitational


Tom Shade, Contributor

Sixteen schools converged on Redbank’s track facilities for the 18th Annual “Last Chance” meet in District Nine under fair skies. The well-regarded Redbank Invitational has long served as the final opportunity for small schools to qualify for the District Championships, and the DCC Cardinals wasted no time.

The field events began an hour early under the warm temperatures they prefer, and it didn’t take long before personal records started falling in the throws with a great javelin toss from Braylee Lukehart(82’11”) for another Hall of Fame performance. Next came Johnny Varischetti’s freshman record heave (34’1”) in the shot, followed by Eva Bloom’s Hall of Fame shot put (32’ 4”) that qualified her for districts and placed her in the top 2 all-time throwers for this event and a fifth place overall. Lauren Schmader capped off the early afternoon throwing events with a great discus throw (82’) now standing behind only school record holder Martina Swalligan’s 2019 whirl.

Exciting things were happening in the jumps at the same time the throwers were making history.

District qualifier and Hall of Fame high jumper Hope Jacob won her first gold medal of the day while engulfed in a classic struggle with 4 of the top jumpers in the district. With one jump to go to clear 4’11” she was delayed in her final try due to an error by the jumps official and was called to the 4×1 relay tent. After returning Jacob cleared the height then proceeded to race the relay. Before her return to the high jump the other competitors had their try at the next height (5’1”) and all missed. It took Jacob a single jump on her first try upon returning to clear the height and close the contest for a gold medal and setting a new freshman record, one inch away from the state-ranked school record by Haley Frey in 2016.

More jumps history was made as both Faith Jacob & Reagan Gelnette hit 4’7” in the high jump setting a personal record leap for Gelnette and placing them both at the #3 all-time spot for the event since 1977.

The die was cast as the excitement poured over to the track starting with a school record 4×8 (18:34) blast from the Lady Card team of Sophia Rooney, Chloe Benden, Maddie Schmader, and Zoe Puhala. The silver medal performance totally annihilated the original 2016 mark by over a minute and left the relay team ranked near the top of District Nine.

The girls 4×1 team of Madison Mortimer, Savannah Ross, Puhala, & Hope Jacob set a team mark (56.6) and possible qualification for post-season.

There was no sign of slowing down in the 1600 meter race as Madelyn Schmader (5:44) hit just seconds behind the 2017 record by Sylvia Pisarchick. Schmader earned a fifth place and a #2 ranking in the DCC Hall of Fame for the effort.

Anna Brubaker also entered the Hall with her 6:43 race taking out the 2008 season Christy Cook’s name from the honor roll.

The boys 1600 was equally remarkable as Micah Williamson (4:43) now ranks in the all-time top two in the classic running event to win a silver medal. Angelo Piccirillo also ran his personal best mark (5:11) as well.

Next was the 400 meter dash where Williamson & Puhala both qualified for districts. Williamson (54.9) won a fifth place with a Hall Of Fame run that ties Egan Peck’s 2017 race for the #5 spot all-time. Earlier in the girls race Puhala (63.3) entered the Hall at #4 to qualify, and is now less than a second behind Riley Meyer’s time in 2017 when Meyers was ranked first at this invitational.

The great day continued with the grueling 300  meter hurdles. Sophia Rooney surprised  many with her Hall Of Fame run (53.4), and Madison Mortimer also achieved her personal record (56.8) in the low hurdle event.

In the 800 meter dash, possibly the most difficult event on the track, it was Landon Schmader (2:07) in a 6th place race, along with Angelo Piccirillo’s (2:08) personal record, performing at Hall Of fame levels to qualify.

The 200 meter dash saw Kyan Peck (26.1) and Williamson (25.1) both earning personal marks.

As the weather turned near perfect with the setting sun the 3200 meter run commenced starting with Zoe Puhala smashing her own school record(12:53) to earn a fifth overall, and 2nd place among all AA schools.

As the stadium lights came on the boys 3200 race proved just as inspiring as Landon Schmader(10:52) qualified after a bad fall in the first 200 meters of the contest. After losing precious seconds in the recovery Schmader managed to stay focused and grind out his best time of the season to earn the right to compete post-season.

The weather turned to near perfection under the stadium lights when the defending champion DCC Lady Cardinal 4×4 team, consisting now of Faith Jacob, Chloe Benden, Hope Jacob, and Madelyn Schmader, lined up for the final event. Hope Jacob took the start and the girls never looked back as they led the entire race to win the second gold medal of the day with a school record time of 4:17, putting them possibly at the top seed in the district.

The boys 4×4 (4:44) ended the near perfect evening with their best race of the year. The team of Peck, Piccirillo, Schmader & Williamson firmly planted themselves in the top 3 all-time relay teams for a forth place, and four seconds off the 48- year old  DCC record set by Fauls, Cathcart, Armagost and Bianco in 1974.

As the night ended there was not a fan of DCC track & field who doubted they had witnessed something beyond their expectations.

The teammates now await until next week for the District Nine official decision as to whom will be accepted to compete in the district championships to be held on May 20th in Brookville.